Once upon a time we switched on the TV and watched a programme or two, in the evening after we had tea, when the kids were in bed and it was time to settle down to relax. TV Time was limited as the TV signal would shut down at night and eight-year-old Carole Hersee would appear (in the UK at least). We had a choice amongst Light Entertainment and Drama, Documentaries, News and Sport all chosen for us and delivered when somebody else thought best.
Life is a little different now because:
Today we want TV at Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere and we want to watch What We Want, When We Want, Where We Want. We want to watch Live TV, with the use of Pause and Rewind Live TV. And if we miss missed the beginning of something we need Start OverTV so that we can go back to the beginning of the programme that we have joined late. We need Catch-Up TV for shows we have missed. We need to StoreLive TV programmes for later viewing on a Hard Drive (Personal Video Recorder) or a Removable Storage device with the possibility of using Series Recording for Binge Watching. We also want to be able to Side Load content onto a Companion Device to consume later when in the garden, or perhaps travelling on a bus or train. We want a Whole Home PVR system or Network PVR so that we can have Follow Me TV that allows us to start watching in one room and then take the content into another room and join it from where we left off in the other room. We want Companion Screen driven TV Everywhere so we can Throw and Fetch programmes from those devices to different screens in the home. We want Over The Top TV so we can have non-Linear content and not be restricted to a Schedule. We want Interactive TV with Applications that allow us access to Weather, or Horoscope or Games and a lot of other stuff all delivered over the Cloud and Home Network. We want to be able to Search for, and Recommend content to other people on Social Media. We don’t want this on a STB or CPE we want all of this on a Smart orConnected TV, in 3D or Ultra HD 4K or perhapsSuper Ultra HD 8K. We need it in High Dynamic Range, so that we get the best quality on a Curved OLED, millimetre thick, Flatscreen TV: 24 Hours a Day, 7 Days a Week, 365 Days of the Year completelyuninterrupted.
TV Content has however NOT broken the boundaries that technology has. Geo-Blocking, Distribution Rights, Landing Rights, Syndication, Franchising and all that shenanigans is hindering and hampering not helping, other than to further slow the transformation of TV – Perhaps that is a good thing?
I have to continually update the LG Smart TV at home (Again last night) – ‘Internet Apps’ on the SmartTV means that I have to follow an upgrade path regardless of whether I use any of the Smarts on the TV or not … When are they going to offer a Monitor App that looks at what you use on a SmartTV then remove the unused items in order to save on Memory and CPU use and therefore reduce ‘updates’? My TV is connected to a PayTV STB with everything I need – I don’t do 3D and Google on TV or any other silly App that expects me to register and pay for content…I already pay for content that I am satisfied with!
The marriage of many parties in the Interactive TV systems has always been the Achilles heel for a fully integrated homogenous interactive environment. We have had other pre-2nd screen (i.e. 2nd-Window) systems since the 1990s that have suffered from the same issues described in this rather oldish article: (considering Zeebox has already walked into the sunset) http://edit.hollywoodreporter.com/behind-screen/zeebox-s-anthony-rose-people-589252 – However it is worth some reflection:
Programme/TV Show/Film producers (Pre-Production and Post Production) are still unable to have a “write-once” for a “read-anywhere” business plan due to competing (proprietary/standardised) technologies that are all designed for the same job of Value Added Services. There were and still are proprietary and standardised CMS systems available but that still did not answer the age old problem of incompatibility across broadcasters, operators selection of technology in the global TV eco-systems. The DVB Consortium made something that tried to answer this early on with something called DVB-PCF (Transcoding across different VAS systems) which the BBC worked heavily on. It never saw the light of day.
Therefore creating and franchising a show using a SocialTV / Companion Screen technology and single back-office system is seen as a pre-requisite in the conquering of this Value Added Service arena. The Show the Voice in Holland was successful using Social TV but this cannot be sold as a package into Belgium for example for techno-political-business reasons.
2nd Screen technology technology fragmentation is the same issue as in ALL previous Interactive TV middleware issues. Then add to this new Non-TV technologies (i.e. designed for the Internet all trying to latch on to the TV eco-system). Fit-For-Purpose is an issue that also dogs the TV eco-system. Different Social TV and Companion Screen offerings now numbers in their 30s with Civolution, Egonocast, Shazam, WyWy etc. integrating on-screen, 2nd-window, off-programme and full dual-screen synchronisation.
There are lots of other things that are around in the new world of TV Tech – the failed 3DTV and now UHDTV and 4K etc. that are at least keeping us occupied.
This is one of the best articles I have read on the trials and tribulations of the 2nd Screen-Companion Screen and their role in Television interactivity. As you might know I am a confirmed Interactive TV enthusiast, having been in this industry sector since its very early days. The main dificulty in Interactive TV has always been the ROI. How do you make money at it? For the Broadcaster and Operator it is fast becoming more and more clear, but they have to change their thinking with respect to this area of Television and embrace a change in direction. Why? Cost Saving without cutting head-count, service reduction can be achieved and an actual revenue generating service can be implemented. This makes sense for the long term financial health of teh Broadcasters & Operators. Companion Screen Interactivity (SaaS based) is a natural CAPEX/OPEX ‘cost-saving’ exercise. We know that Embedded Middleware in STBs and TVs is a very costly exercise for advanced services and interactivity. It is costly to License – Implement – Test – Run a Back Office and Pay to have Applications developed. It needs constant Software Support and there are, in the main, run-time costs associated with most Middleware systems. It is fragmented! For the Broadcaster/Operator Interactive TV OPEX (SaaS model) can be amortised against the TV-Everywhere/Catch-Up Services Infrastructure already in place. It makes sense to move to a SaaS based service as the Companion Screens are bought by the Consumer not by the Broadcaster/Operator. STBs and TVs can also be cost reduced as they will require less intelligence. Apps are/can be/will be downloaded for free. Advertisers, Programme makers and the Channels can exploit this synchronised, always connected 2nd Screen in the home. There may well be dedicated TV+Companion Screen sales at CE level in the future. Although this will take time to evolve as a market I believe it is a natural path for Interactive Services. Please read the Article linked below to get a good overview of the already fragmented market, the dificult marriage of many players and the reluctance of the Broadcasters/Operators who have not seen the obvious route they should be taking.
When you don’t go to a Trade Show that you have been regularly visiting for the past 8-10 years it is a slightly uncomfortable feeling. It sort of feels like you are missing out on something…but are you really? CES is after all a gadget show and do we need to go if we are not Retailers of Consumer Electronics? What a lot of people do not know is that there is a lot going on behind the scenes in more of a Business-2-Business nature; especially in the Television world that I move in. A lot of networking takes place, and a lot of ‘private suites’ allow for plenty of businessmen to gather, show of their wares in private, discuss and potentially deal-make!
His outlook is that there is mostly years of repetition of technology along with what I call ‘catch-up’ Companies there ‘en-masse’ with cheaper but the same gadgets from the year before and therefore swamping the floors, the industry and the news with old stuff in effect. There is also a decline in the Big Companies with Microsoft having pulled out! Apple is not there either and if Apple is not there how can it truly be called THE Consumer Electronic Show? Qualcomm even did the keynote speech this year – Qualcomm?
Another journalist from our immediate industry Leslie Ellis pointed out that the the trending products were waterpoofing gadgets for your smartphones and tablets. I suspect the Hunting Knife Company and the Mini Flying Helicopters will still be there in the South Hall and that Spearmint Rhino will still get its CES clientele. Ummm, so what is it I miss?
Well in all honestly I do miss it as it kicks off the business year with a hectic, manic traipse around Vegas! Therefore life without an early dose of CES certainly makes for a less-tired more calculated start to 2013.
CE Manufacturers heading towards a zero sum with respect to TV margins have decided that the way forward is to compete with the Broadcasters they used to slavishly serve. They have been revealing the future at IFA and that future is depressingly fragmented. Each CE manufacturer believes that a Connected TV will allow them to become ‘Private Broadcasters’ with TV Portals, IPGs and Applications. The mainstream Broadcasters are trying to keep their Business by offering Hybrid Broadcast Broadband but not all of them. What a disservice this is doing to the Consumer. This is apparently considered healthy competition. What poppycock! It is a fragmented disarray…SD, HD, 3D, OTT, Interactive, Smart TVs but not Smart people nor Smart Regulators who have let the Corporations fleece the Consumer and treat them all like ‘Guinea Pigs’ in a European Digital TV Laboratory.
Every Tom, Dick & Harry want to be in TV and offer TV Content Portals…Even Starbucks, Norwegian Pizza chains and a plethora TV Manufacturers are in the game. You cannot get a plumber or builder but you can easily find a geek to build you a TV Portal! Where is the ROI on these TV Portal activities? Does Philips, Sony, LG, Panasonic sell any more TVs in a saturated business because of a TV Portal? Apparently TV are NOT being connected to the Internet even though they are Connected TVs, Apps are what they are – fun for a while. Who knows because nobody will reveal their figures. 3DTV failed and is going away quietly, Cisco cutting back by shutting down a STB manaufacturing plant…Echostar brave enough to shut down its IPTV offering! What more is there to come? Will this be a catalyst for the realities of the need for ROI in the TV Business? Will we see more people like the CE manufacturers drop their fragmented and surely wasteful investment in a Connected TV service. The financial crisis is not over so we will certainly have to watch this space.